she has no english;
her lips round / in a moan ....
calligraphy of veins ....
— MERLINDA BOBIS, ‘First Night’
My syntax, tightly-wrought —
I struggle to let go,
to let go of its formality,
of my wishbone
desiring juice — its deep marrow,
muscle, and skin.
The sentence finally pronounced —
I am greedy for long drawn-
out vowels, for consonants that
desire lust, tissue, grey-cells.
I am hungry for love,
for pleasure, for flight,
for a story essaying endlessly — words.
A comma decides to pr[e]oposition
a full-stop ... ellipses pause, to reflect —
a phrase decides not to reveal
her thoughts after all — ellipses and
semi-colons are strange bed-fellows.
Calligraphy of veins and words
require ink, the ink of breath,
of blood — corpuscles speeding
faster than the loop of serifs ...
the unresolved story of our lives
in a fast train without terminals.
I long only for italicised ellipses ...
my english is the other, the other
is really english —she has no english;
her lips round / in a moan —
oval, rich, nuanced, grammar-
drenched, etched letters of glass.
for Arjun Kalyanpur
Onion-pink aorta transforms
crimson-red — tertiary twigs
split, as installation art revolves
on its axis. They pose
as radiant organic sculptures,
made even more stunning
by teleradiology’s intense probe.
Five-beat rate scans —
magical images of living organs
from rural health clinics faraway
from city’s glass-and-steel labs.
Coral-shaped aortas rotate 360°
in perfect Brownian motion
on vertical hi-res LCD screens —
scanned images of the diseased.
They are beautiful however —
illness radiating inner beauty —
hidden architecture, looped,
dancing in secret helixes.
Teleradiology Centre, Bangalore
for Janet Pierce
at mid-day, shadow-dance on
flint-speckled sand dunes
the oily plaits of
bronze-toned fisherwomen, curl —
diced fresh fruits tumble —
honey-topped with coconut,
muesli and curd
rimmed with salt — stings and blanches —
heat of ocean sun
beach umbrellas, flags,
towels, table-cloths flutter
with wind’s roving tide
shacks stacked side-by-side
heavy with dub-bass trance mix
compete for custom
topless bodies burn —
white to flaky ugly brown —
sun scorching secrets
skin smarts, sweats — acrid
air crackles the deep heat of
the slow salving salt
studio’s chill cool
air melts blues — deep blue belies
the red heat outside
deceptive slow pace
subtly streams into my blood —
sparking life from death
for Chandrahas Choudhury
In Room 4, the safe
embedded in the wall
has not been opened
in a 150 years.
It has seen history,
life changing, aging —
but no one knows
what lies within.
The keyhole looks worn —
of attempted break-ins
But what is inside? —
the first owner’s ashes,
her will, wealth, gold; old
currencies, lover’s relics?
Perhaps, it is best
kept as a mystery
in a world where
there is so little of it.
A spider runs across
weaving silver strands —
her own signs
of protection — a web
Flies buzz around
in an annoying tenor.
Wall’s peeling lime
flake off, whitewash —
failing to conceal time —
lose their glue.
A train of ants
at the keyhole’s gape.
Some tunnel in, but
even after days on end —
I do not see them
emerge out again.
Gratitude Heritage House,
RAGHU RAI PHOTOGRAPH
On a river-bank, abandoned clay-idols
of goddesses wait for their last rites.
An old widow clad in a white cotton sari
looks on, awaiting a similar fate.
A cow, half-hidden behind a gigantic tree,
her bovine-head resembling a decapitated
hunting trophy, nailed to the trunk.
Everything is calm — the river rippleless —
a boat plies on, lazily. An emaciated
boatman rests on his long bamboo-oar,
waiting for the meagre wealth clay deities
provide once they dissolve — an ungodly
immersion in the polluted river. Death, life,
ceremony, sacrifice, serenity, ferocity —
frozen meditatively still, find umbrage
under the scant-leafed large old tree.
Kolkata, misted on the horizon
across the river’s far edge, looms sprawling —
entirely unaware of a captured drama
waiting to unfold at the city’s periphery.
[the above poem have been reprinted with the permission of the author, Sudeep Sen, from his new book, Fractals: New & Selected Poems | Translations: 1980-2015 (London Magazine Editions, U.K.)]